After winning out over Florence and Edinburgh in bids to host the 2014 Tour de France Grand Depart, Yorkshire will be doing some road repair work in the coming months to the tune of around £400,000. The North Yorkshire County Council will be putting up about half of that amount with the districts of Richmondshire, Harrogate and Craven making up the rest; Richmondshire has reportedly set aside about £50,000 for the cause.
Welcome to Yorkshire is the official tourism agency for the county and was instrumental in bringing off what has been called a sporting coup. CEO Gary Verity called it a thrill and an honour to host one of the biggest shows on Earth – and the biggest free show. He told reporters, “The only two events bigger are the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup and they only take place every four years, and are unlikely to come to Yorkshire in my lifetime.”
Council members are also delighted with the prospect as they anticipate millions of spectators converging on Leeds, where the Grand Depart will take place, and on Yorkshire county in general as the cyclists pass through its scenic (and cyclist-challenging) terrain during the first two days of the three week endurance race.
The tourism agency and the various Councils are expecting the event to generate tremendous enthusiasm – and even more than the £100 million or so that poured into London when that city hosted the Grand Depart in 2007. It doesn’t hurt that this year’s Tour de France winner was Bradley Wiggins, the first English cyclist to win in the 109-year history of the race. In addition Mark Cavendish, the ‘super-sprinter’ with 23 Tour stage wins under his belt, has family roots in North Yorkshire.
In any event, Yorkshire intends to put its roads in order; there will be inspections, repairs and reworking where necessary to facilitate the safe passage of all those duelling bicycles. And, as Councillor John Blackie of Richmondshire noted, the improvements will benefit residents and visitors to the area for years to come.